שאלות ותשובותCategory: PhilosophyThe Lubavitcher Rebbe — psychopath or crook
Avatar Anon asked Staff ago

Hello.



I saw a short video in which the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz called the Lubavitcher Rebbe a “psychopath or crook.” Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz also said that he had information on the Lubavitcher Chassidism, but I did not understand what he meant.

You can watch the video at Flix: http://www.flix.co.il/tapuz/showVideo.asp?m=2227487



Why did Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz conclude that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was a psychopath or a crook??



The terms used to describe the Lubavitcher Rebbe seem very harsh, and obviously Prof. Leibowitz didn’t say them lightly; he must have had good reason. Does Daat Emet understand what the late Prof. Leibowitz meant when he used these terms?



Another thing: Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz said that the essence of the messiah is that he would “come to the world” and not that he would literally come. Upon what did Prof. Yeshayahu Lebowitz base his words? See the video on Flix: http://www.flix.co.il/tapuz/showVideo.asp?m=936426



Thanks in advance,



David

1 Answers
Avataradmin Staff answered 11 years ago

Dear David,





Anyone who sees himself as a messiah, a superhuman entity, is either a psychopath or a crook.

If he honestly believes that he is the messiah, he is a psychopath. If he recognizes the reality and yet uses messianism to control his followers he is a crook. Which is true of the Rebbe has never been determined, because his actions did not allow one to decide whether he believed himself to be the messiah.

This reality of psychopaths and crooks amongst the mystics is known in rabbinic literature. Nachmanides explained why Joshua son of Nun asked Moses to imprison Eldad and Meidad, who prophesized in the camp (Numbers 11:26-29):



“Imprison them, my master Moses. The reason being…that perhaps the scent of falsehood issues from their mouths or an evil spirit expresses itself through them. You must imprison them as you would a madman who prophesizes” (Nachmanides on Numbers 11:28).



When a person acts as a prophet (the messiah is considered a prophet) he acts as a madman. There is a section of the Scriptures which captures this thought:



And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, “Get yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramot Gilead. Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I have anointed you king over Israel.” ‘ Then open the door and flee, and do not delay.” So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramot Gilead… [The young man] said to him, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I have anointed you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel… And he opened the door and fled. Then Jehu came out to the servants of his master, and [one] said to him, “[Is] all well? Why did this madman come to you?” And he said to them, “You know the man and his babble.” And they said, “A lie! Tell us now.” So he said, “Thus and thus he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I have anointed you king over Israel.” ‘ ” Then each man hastened to take his garment and put [it] under him on the top of the steps; and they blew trumpets, saying, “Jehu is king!”


II Kings 9:1-14




I will quote an e-mail I received two weeks ago from a Lubavitch chassid.

There are hundreds of other prophecies which the Rebbe gave to private individuals or public figures. People from all walks of life came to the Rebbe — Jews and gentiles — and everyone who met him saw his greatness. Even today people ask questions and through the holy writings they get answers from the Rebbe, who lives and breathes in a physical body in our world as does the prophet Elijah. The sources for the written prophecies and many others can be read in the book “There is a prophet in Israel” by Rabbi Cheruti.


One who truly sees himself as a messiah (one who is not a crook) thinks himself to possess superhuman abilities, and his followers attribute to him “visions” and medicinal powers (like Jesus in the New Testament). In psychology he is considered to have a disorder. I will cite a section of the article “Aspects of Prophecy as Psychiatric Concepts” (from Medicine, “Between Prophecy and Mental Illness,” Tali Vishana and Eran Harari, v. 144:9 [September 2005]).

In acts of prophecy two different aspects find expression:

1. Vision (by sight, sound, or another sense) — in psychiatry, a thought disorder.

2. Insight (the significance of the vision) — in psychiatry, incorrect assessment of reality.



As for your second question, upon what Leibowitz based his idea that the messiah is always a future event and that one who claims the messiah has already come is a liar — I have not found any explicit proof within rabbinic literature for Prof. Leibowitz’s idea, but there are many hints. Shmuel the son of Nachmani said: “Blasted be the bones of those who calculate the end. For they would say, since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come. But [even so], wait for him, as it is written, Though he tarry, wait for him….Why do we await it? — To be rewarded [for hoping], as it is written (Isaiah 30) ‘Blessed are all they that wait for him'” (Sanhedrin 87b).

This means that one must always await the messiah, but “Those who calculate the end should die, lest they lead to disappointment” (Rashi, ibid.).



One who looks at the history of the Jewish people through the philosophy of Maimonides, and particularly in the notion that Judaism manifests in Halacha (a legal system based on fear of “the Heavens”) and not in mystic outlooks. Faith in the messiah is marginal. One of the Talmudic sages even believed that the messiah had already arrived and should no longer be anticipated, that there was no longer any religious significance to the act of waiting: “R. Hillel maintained that there will be no messiah for Israel, since they have already enjoyed him during the reign of Hezekiah” (Sanhedrin 88b).



Based on the above, any reasonable person can conclude that the messiah is yet to come to the world.

See also our answer to the question Jewish messianism throughout the generations has left the Jewish nation like an infant which has not developed.



Wishing you a holiday free of superstition,



Daat Emet

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